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Friday, June 05, 2020

Arson Destroys Oklahoma Masonic Hall

by Christopher Hodapp

The Masonic temple of Wright Lodge No. 483 in Wright City, Oklahoma was destroyed Thursday night by fire.

According to a message from the Grand Secretary of Oklahoma, Bobby L. Laws, PGM, a "fire source" was thrown through the front window of the building. The arson attack reportedly happened at about midnight. The message states that the area Fire Marshall is looking into the incident. Photos of the damage have been circulated on Facebook today.

 Wright Lodge 483 is chartered by the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Oklahoma.

Be sure your lodge's security system, fire alarm, surveillance cameras are up to date and in working order. And invest in a fire safe for your most irreplaceable records. An extremely disturbing graphic image appeared earlier this week on the QAnon far-right conspiracy message boards and circulated on Reddit and elsewhere. It shows the fronts of several Masonic halls with squares and compasses, with the message, "You're burning down the wrong buildings." It is likely that anarchists, home-grown terrorists, vehement anti-Masons, bored teenagers and other bad actors may be motivated to act on their baser instincts as protests, riots and violence around the country get nonstop media coverage. 

As reported earlier this week, a bomb was placed outside of a Masonic lodge in Cornwall, EnglandAs Freemasons, we need to stay aware and vigilant that there are still plenty of people in the world who would do us harm. 

The tiny town of Wright City with about 700 residents is located in the southeastern tip of Oklahoma, near the borders with Texas and Arkansas. It is about 60 miles northwest of Texarkana. As Grand Secretary Law says in his message, "If it can happen there it could also happen elsewhere."

Friday, 5:50PM, June 5, 2020:

Brother James Durbin in Tulsa, Oklahoma has started a Facebook online fundraiser to benefit Wright Lodge. Visit it HERE.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Roundup of Vandalism and Damage to Masonic Halls During Week of Protests

Authorities guarding the area around Boston's Masonic Temple
by Christopher Hodapp

A string of reports are coming in about several Masonic buildings suffering damage or vandalism this week. Some are related to the ongoing protests and riots in the wake of the George Floyd death in Minneapolis, but others clearly are not. But what is remarkable is that, despite the widespread historic location of Masonic halls in downtown areas across the country and the high levels of damage for a week now in many cities, very few incidents of vandalism against Masonic buildings have been reported. It's highly probable that some have not been actively reported, but here is what I have discovered thus far:

Over the last weekend, graffiti was sprayed on Denver's downtown Masonic Center, home to several lodges and the Scottish Rite – the news reported that some protestors were seen attempting to clean off the slogans. 

Several Masons reported 'hunkered down' at the downtown Tucson, Arizona Masonic hall on the second night of protests after its windows were smashed the night before. 

Windows and door broken at Ft. Wayne, Indiana Masonic Temple
The downtown Masonic Temple in Fort Wayne, Indiana had several windows broken out.

Entrance to Paul Revere Restaurant in Boston's Masonic Temple
Boston's Masonic Temple, home of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts sits on Tremont Street in downtown Boston. It became the epicenter of several nights of protests and demonstrations.  In a Facebook video assuring his members, Grand Master Richard Maggio gave a shoutout to David Harty and the Grand Lodge security team. The building's ground floor windows were boarded up, and neither the Masonic areas nor the new Paul Revere restaurant received any damage or vandalism, apart from a spray painted slogan on the plywood.

Washington's House of the Temple Vandalized

Arturo De Hoyos reports that the Scottish Rite - SJ headquarters, the House of the Temple on 16th Street in Washington, D.C. was vandalized during the demonstrations on Tuesday evening. The large, iconic sphinxes out front were reportedly doused with paint, and the building was defaced with graffiti. Prior to Tuesday night, it had escaped any vandalism or damage during the recent demonstrations.

A short video clip on Twitter showed one of the protesters spray painting on the wall.

Damage to Raleigh, NC Prince Hall Lodge 

The 1906 Prince Hall Masonic temple owned by Excelsior Lodge 21 and Widow Son Lodge 4 in Raleigh, North Carolina had its windows shattered by protestors on Saturday night. The shops and Chapter Room on the first floor were damaged.

According to lodge Trustee Steven Melton on Facebook,

"We have 4 black businesses that rent from us they were vandalized, we are one of the few black owned buildings downtown but it didn't matter to those looking to do damage... We still rent the 1st floor to local businesses, the 2nd floor for social events,community programs and Excelsior Lodge #21, Widow's Son Lodge #4 and Mentor Lodge #55 still meet on the 3rd floor every month. The area surrounding the lodge has been renamed The Prince Hall District and the [building] has been declared a historic building.

Prince Hall Lodge Burns in Asheville, North Carolina 

In the Shiloh community of Asheville, North Carolina, fire gutted the Masonic Hall at Caribou Road and Booker Streets. 

According to a report on 13WLOS-TV, it had been home to Venus Lodge 62, the first African-American Masonic lodge in Asheville. Built by the lodge in the 1970s, the building had been empty for the last few years, pending renovation. 
Originating on Eagle Street in downtown Asheville, Venus Lodge No. 62 was the city's first black Masonic Lodge group.
Where blackened rubble stands on Booker Street, Ronald Scott pictures years of events, from cookouts to scholarship fundraisers, that brought folks together.
"Very disheartened and sad. Unbelievable," said Scott, who's the lodge master.
He hoped to renovate the structure, which had been unused for some seven years since another fire caused extensive damage. 
Fire officials are still investigating the cause. The surrounding neighborhood in Shiloh had no demonstration or protest activity, so this may be completely unrelated.

While not in this location, the lodge continues to meet. Venus Lodge 62 is chartered by the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina.

Grand Master of Pennsylvania Issues Statement After Franklin and Washington Statues Were Vandalized Saturday

As reported previously, after the bronze sculptures of Brothers Benjamin Franklin and George Washington outside of Philadelphia's Masonic Temple were sprayed with graffiti Saturday night, Masons quickly arrived and cleaned them off again. Grand Master Thomas Gamon, IV gratefully acknowledged their speedy work in a formal announcement:

Thanks to Brother Ryan Steele for identifying the members of the crew.

LtoR: Paul Roth/University Lodge No. 51, John Mosco/51, Jason Fugarino/ Richmond-Solomon Lodge No. 3, Daniel Rivers/Athelstan-Lamberton Lodge No. 482, Ed Clifford, PM/51; 

not pictured/taking the picture - Mike Comfort, PM/Melita Lodge No. 295

UPDATE Friday June 5, 2020:

One final note on Philadelphia. Several message boards circulated vague reports that the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania's Masonic hall and headquarters building on Broad Street had sustained damage, and even that it had been set on fire. It was reported later that a car had been set on fire immediately adjacent to the building, but that the Masonic hall itself sustained no damage.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Crude Bomb Found Outside of English Masonic Hall in Cornwall, England

by Christopher Hodapp

Seemingly unrelated to the U.S. protests over the past week, an incendiary bomb was found outside of a Masonic lodge in Penryn, Cornwall, England early Tuesday mor ning. According to a BBC story, the bomb squad from the Royal Navy were called in to defuse the crude device, which authorities said "represented a danger to themselves as well as the locality in which it was placed." It did not explode, and there was no injury or damage.

The Penryn Masonic Hall is home to The Lodge of the Three Grand Principles No. 967, St. Gluvias Lodge 7936, and St. Budoc's Lodge 8445, all holden under the United Grand lodge of England.

According to the CornwallLive website, "Police are treating the discovery as arson with intent to endanger life. Incident ongoing."

(Photos from the BBC)

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Grand Masters in Washington DC Issue Joint Statement on Recent Protests

by Christopher Hodapp

There have been unprecedented protests and violence in the nation's capitol and throughout the country over the last week in connection with the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. To address the issue locally, a joint statement has been issued today by the grand masters of the Grand Lodge FAAM of the District of Columbia and the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia (click the image to enlarge):

Joint Statement of 
Washington, D.C. Grand Masters
June 2, 2020

Our city of Washington DC is suffering. Based upon the dedication of all Masons throughout the world to the ideals of Masonic brotherly love and fellowship, we believe that our Craft offers a bold example of how men of different races can love and respect each other.

Freemasons do not all think alike. We are formed from different races, different political and social backgrounds, and many different countries. We all act and vote as individuals, and as our respective consciences dictate. But on one principle we are united. Freemasons accept and respect one another regardless of our differences, and the Brotherhood we share is based solely upon the content of a man’s character. 
Our Ancient Landmarks, handed down to us through the ages, include two important truths:
  • All Masons believe in the existence of God as the Grand Architect of the Universe and in the existence of an immortal spirit that is His gift to every person.
  • All Masons meet as equals. As the children of one great Father, we are all traveling to that predestined place where only genuine virtue merits respect, rather than wealth or status.

The leaders signing this statement affirm these beliefs. The ugly history of slavery and segregation in our country had estranged our two Grand Lodges in Washington, D.C. for too many years. But we have since outgrown those divisions and forged between us the ties of Brotherhood that unite us as Freemasons. Freemasonry is strong and vibrant in Washington DC, and we have a role to play in the healing that our city requires.

Each Brother will make his own decision about how to mourn the death of George Floyd, and how to call out for justice. But Freemasons will not succumb to the blind hatred of racial tension, nor contribute to inflaming those destructive passions. We are united as a sacred Brotherhood.We humbly request the aid and blessing of Almighty God on our City and Nation and ask for His pro- tection of our loved ones. Finally, we ask that all Freemasons redouble their efforts to heal the divisions tearing at our society, and we look forward to the time when we can meet together again.


Michael D. Nicholas, Sr. 

Grand Master
The Grand Lodge, FAAM Washington, D.C.

Quincy G. Grant

Most Worshipful Grand Master
Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge
Jurisdiction of the District of Columbia

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Lazy Sunday

by Christopher Hodapp

Alice and I went downtown today to check the condition of the Indianapolis Masonic Temple after several nights of mayhem and vandalism came too close to it for comfort. We made it a Sunday family outing, since the building was empty and Alice hadn't seen the Museum in a while. Fortunately none of the three big Indianapolis Masonic buildings have been hit with any damage.

But Sophie didn't care for her first encounter with our antique De Moulin Brothers' Odd Fellows novelty lodge goat.

Not one bit.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Philadelphia's Masonic Statues Vandalized

by Christopher Hodapp

Masonic statues of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington in Philadelphia were vandalized this weekend during protests and violence related to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. The figures of the two brethren were splattered with red paint and sprayed with slogans.

The display is officially titled, The Bond. The bronze sculptures by artist James West, depicting two of America's most famous Freemasons, stand on Broad Street in front of the Grand Lodge F&AM of Pennsylvania's historic Masonic Temple

An inscription on the 2016 installation describes what it depicts:
"Brother George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, first President of the United States, and member of Alexandria Lodge (Fairfax County, Virginia) shows his Masonic Apron to Brother Benjamin Franklin, diplomat who negotiated French involvement in our independence. Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and Master of the Loge Les Neuf Soeurs, in Paris. It was a gift from Brother General Lafayette, member of the Loge Contrat Social of Paris, who represented the French government and their commitment to American Independence."
Demonstrations related to George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis had started out peacefully in at about noon in Philadelphia Saturday, with hundreds paying silent homage to Floyd outside City Hall. But the situation grew destructive as the day went on and an estimated 3,000 people moved into the area. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that vandals and looters broke into some stores, smashed windows and stole items Saturday afternoon. A Starbucks outside City Hall was set on fire Saturday evening, along with several cars. The mayor of Philadelphia has imposed a curfew effective from 8 p.m. through 6 a.m.

But local Brethren didn't let the vandalism last for very long. Members of University Lodge 51 removed the paint early this evening before the curfew, noting that, "Spray painted statues symbolizing brotherhood and Fraternity... Only get cleaned quicker."

H/T Daryll Slimmer

Friday, May 29, 2020

Shriners Hospitals Rebranding As 'Shriners Children's'

by Christopher Hodapp

Bill Hosler over on the On The Square blog is reporting today that 'Shriners Hospitals for Children' has just announced that they are uniformly rebranding their network of 22 hospitals as 'Shriners Children's.' The name change is intended to unify and do away with a handful of different facility and corporate entity names of several Shriners children's hospitals and programs throughout North America.

The rebranding does away with different facility
names in the Shriners Hospital system
An email today signed by Imperial Potentate Jeff Sowder and Jeffery Gant, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, explains that the new name better reflects the present and future for of the organization. It reads, in part:
For nearly 100 years, Shriners Hospitals for Children has expanded, changed and adapted to meet the needs of children and families. As we have changed, we have added different terms to describe our locations, which is, quite honestly, a confusing distraction. We have grown so much, and do so much – “Shriners Hospitals for Children”– no longer adequately tells the public who we are. We are all part of Shriners and our concern is children, but we are more than hospitals.
As we look forward to a new century of caring for kids, the world is a far different place than it was in 1922, when we opened our first hospital. And Shriners Hospitals for Children is equally different.
We have become far more than a collection, or even a system, of hospitals. We have become leaders in care, research and medical education. We are known for innovation, expertise, compassion, generosity and a strength and determination to improve lives, no matter the complexity, that is stunning and respected throughout the world. We give our patients and families so much more than medical care. We help them build confidence and self-esteem. We provide as many resources as we have available – from custom prosthetics to adaptive sports opportunities, to assistive devices that encourage personal independence.
We are so much more than hospitals – and we need to share that fact – shout that message – clearly – to help us be recognized for all we are, live our mission and reach more children and families who need us.
The announcement hasn't gone wide yet - there are no press releases or news articles available about the rebranding. I suspect Tampa wanted to alert the membership and donors first.  

However, a video is available online HERE that announces and explains the name change. 

The over-aching name of the parent fraternal organization itself is NOT changing, and will remain Shriners International. In the 140+ years since its official formation, the Shriners have had a couple of official corporate names. The Shriners were established in 1878 with the appropriately bilious name of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and if you rearranged its initials AAONMS, it quite deliberately spelled 'A MASON.' Sometime after the mid-20th century, they rebranded themselves as 'Shriners North America, ' after expanding into Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the hemisphere. But as they opened more Shrine Clubs and Shrine Oases in other parts of the world, it was decided that the name should reflect its more global reach. The name officially changed again in 2010 to Shriners International.

The principal philanthropy of the Shrine - its now 22 children's hospitals - began life in 1922 as Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children in Shreveport, Louisiana, and was established to treat orthopedic injuries and conditions, diseases, burns, spinal cord injuries, plus birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate, in children. By the time the Depression hit in 1929, they had constructed a total of 13 hospitals, and provided care at no charge to patients and their families. Their mission has expanded from there and continues to this day.

All Masons are not Shriners, but all Shriners are Masons. Shriners International is an appendant organization of American Freemasonry. To become a Shriner, a man must join a Masonic lodge first.  Some 200 local Shrine Temples and their members support the network of 22 Shriners' pediatric burn and orthopedic hospitals in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
To donate to Shriners Children's, visit their website HERE.

Monday, May 25, 2020

GL of Japan Suspends Recognition of Prince Hall GL of Oklahoma

by Christopher Hodapp

The Grand Lodge of Japan F&AM has just suspended recognition with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Oklahoma for conducting Masonic activities within its sovereign territory without permission. 

Japan's Grand Master Jeremy Entwistle issued the following notice earlier today:
Notice of Suspension of Recognition of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oklahoma
Dear Brothers,
One of the principle [sic] foundations for the establishment of fraternal relations between Grand Lodges is the recognition and respect of each Grand Lodge's sovereignty over its territorial jurisdiction. That includes not issuing charters establishing lodges or otherwise carrying out masonic activities within each other's sovereign territory unless specifically allowed by authorization, agreement or treaty between the two Grand Lodges.
Unfortunately, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oklahoma has been conducting masonic activities within the sovereign territory of Japan without such authorization from our Grand Lodge.
Therefore, and with immediate effect, acting upon a decision by the Executive Committee of the Grand Lodge of Japan, I hereby suspend recognition of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oklahoma until further notice. If the situation is resolved I will issue further guidance at that time.
Sincerely and fraternally yours,
Jeremy C. R. Entwisle
Grand Master

From what I have been able to find, the MWPHGL of Oklahoma established Cypress Military Lodge 206 in 2009 at Yokota Air Base in Fussa, Tokyo. They also chartered New Beginnings Military Lodge 199 at Yokosuka. I'm unsure when the GL of Japan and the MWPHGL of Oklahoma established mutual recognition, but these particular military lodges have been no secret to anyone. But something happened to raise the hackles of Japan recently, setting this action in motion.

Such, I'm afraid, are among the many obstacles when trying to operate military lodges in foreign nations, especially in the modern communication era. Between accusations of Masonic territorial invasion and the delicate diplomatic dance required for any private clubs meeting on military bases, to say nothing of the strictures of military protocol (lodges can't have 'officers,' they have 'staff'), the potential for problems are numerous. Which is why very few grand lodges anywhere attempt to charter them in the first place anymore.

Hopefully, they will work out their issues quickly.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Driver Rams Salt Lake City Masonic Temple

by Christopher Hodapp

UPDATE 5/21/20 at 6:25PM:

The Salt Lake City Masonic Temple was damaged Monday night when a man rammed his car into the rear entrance of the building. Police ticketed the driver for 'trespassing', not related to the crash. He told police it was accidental, but preliminary reports indicate he is an expelled Mason, originally from Missouri, who has had "past history" with Masons in Utah. Leadership representatives from the Temple Association and Grand Lodge are working with police, and additional charges may be filed.

According to a notice on the Grand Lodge of Utah Facebook page from Grand Master Clay G. Hamblen, their legal counsel is pursuing steps to protect the fraternity from future attacks and harassment by him.

GM Hamblen goes on to say,
It does serve as a reminder, that each of us must be aware of our surroundings and that there are individuals that have an unusual fascination with our organization. Be aware of who attempts to gain entrance into one of our buildings. Are you regularly checking on your building? Is your building being maintained?
Once the buildings are reopened, I would encourage you to lock the exterior door when going into a meeting. I would discourage inviting [someone] to a before-meeting meal [and to first] meet people and get to know them. I completely understand the reasons for doing this, but from a safety standpoint, it should not be done.
It is unfortunate that we have to think about safety in simply going to a lodge meeting, but safety is everyone’s responsibility and we must be aware of who is coming to our buildings not only for our own safety, but that of every member of our Masonic Family.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

From the Grand Architect of the Bakery

I visited my regular, recognized grocery today and picked up an All Seeing Eye pastry.

Yes, we control the bakeries, too.

Lodge Donates Computer Pads To Isolated Patients and Seniors

by Christopher Hodapp

Masons around the world are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown by helping their local communities any way they can. Some lodges have hosted blood drives or assisted neighborhood food banks to collect or pass out food. But brethren in Inverclyde, Scotland are making sure isolated people in their area can still communicate with the outside world during the lockdown. 

Robin McIntyre, Provincial Grand Master for Renfrewshire West in Scotland, reported that the province had lost some of their brethren and family members to coronavirus in recent weeks, and that the lodges wanted to do something to help families who are living with the impact of the virus. 
So, Masonic lodges in the area teamed up to purchase eight Android tablets and fourteen iPads for people who are unable to receive visits from friends and family. 

According to a report on the GreenockTelegraph.co.uk website, Lodge Firth of Clyde Gourock 626 presented the Android tablets to the local hospice, and the iPads will be donated across Inverclyde Royal, the Larkfield Unit and the Marcus Humphrey House Quarriers care home in Bridge of Weir. Masons in that area also donated money and supplies to Inverclyde Food Bank.

Robin is very proud that the lodges have been able to make a difference during lockdown.

He said: "Visiting restrictions make it very difficult for people in hospital to see their families.
"We just thought that this would allow them to keep in touch using Facetime or Skype.
"We're very happy to be able to provide something for the community which will help people keep in touch with their families at this very difficult time.
"Everyone in the brethren has really rallied round since the idea was first mooted.
"The response has been phenomenal."
Malcolm Sinclair of lodge Crawfurdsburn 1121 came up with the idea of donating the equipment and the nine lodges across Inverclyde have all been involved.
Iain Hair at IT Computer Products in Shore Street, Gourock, sourced the iPads, which now have to go to the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde IT team to install approved software.
Robin hopes that the equipment will help older people feel less isolated.
He added: "It's so important for people to talk to their family, especially at this time.
"We're happy that we can do something to help."

Twelve years ago, in 2008, Lodge Firth of Clyde Gourock 626 had to overcome the almost complete loss of their 1896 lodge hall when a fire destroyed it. They rose quite literally from the ashes and rebuilt their home in just eighteen months. Today, they remain a vital part of their local community.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Fire Destroys Hejaz Shrine in South Carolina

by Christopher Hodapp

A devastating fire on Tuesday morning has destroyed the Hejaz Shrine Temple in Mauldin, South Carolina, near Greenville. According to multiple news reports, the entire facility that included the Shrine and the Legacy Pines Golf Club clubhouse is a total loss. The golf club leased its facility from the Shrine.

Investigators say the fire started just after midnight near the kitchen in the rear of the building. Fortunately, no one was in the building at the time, and no firefighters were injured battling the blaze. No word yet on cause.

Hejaz Shrine is extremely popular and home to about 4,000 Shriners. Their temple sits in the middle of the Legacy Pines golf course and boasted a 250-seat capacity banquet hall and Old English style pub.The Hejaz Shrine is a popular local venue for banquets and is well known in the community. The present Temple and golf clubhouse were built in 1984.

From better days
Hejaz Shrine has been celebrating its 100th anniversary during this insane COVID shutdown year, which postponed or canceled so many activities. Doubly heartbreaking, aside from the loss of their facility, is the incalculable loss of artifacts inside from Hejaz' full century of life that are now destroyed. This is a helluva way to mark the passing of such an auspicious anniversary.

Deepest condolences to Potentate Wayne Bragg and all of the fellow Nobles of Hejaz Shrine, with the hope that they will rise again soon from the ashes.

All Masons are not Shriners, but all Shriners are Masons. Shriners International is an appendant organization of American Freemasonry. To become a Shriner, a man must join a Masonic lodge first.  Some 200 local Shrine Temples and their members support the network of 22 Shriners' pediatric burn and orthopedic hospitals in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

'Curse of Oak Island - Drilling Down: Founding Fathers'

by Christopher Hodapp

I was featured on 'Curse of Oak Island - Drilling Down: Founding Fathers'  (Season 7/Ep 6) last night on History™. You'd think the producers might have told me when it would air, but no. 

Brothers Akram Elias, Mark Koltko-Rivera, Tobias Churton, Robert W. Sullivan IV and a surprisingly large list of other interviewees made it on the air.  We actually shot my segment last fall when I was briefly in the Los Angeles area. They did use more than a three-word sentence fragment (yes, it's been done) and I sounded at least vaguely rational this time. 

And no, I did not meet William Shatner. But I do a dandy impression of him.

So DID the fleeing and persecuted Knights Templar sail from Scotland to the 'New Scotland' of Nova Scotia, bury their loot at the bottom of a deep, multi-chambered pit that resembles the Book of Enoch and the Masonic Royal Arch degree, which was then resurrected with French allies from Paris' legendary Lodge of Nine Sisters (Muses) by Freemasons George Washington and Ben Franklin to pay for the American Revolution?

It's almost like it's 2005 all over again. 

But you may get tired of the phrase "there ARE those who believe..." uttered as a breathy Shatnerism. 

This show has strayed far from just being a strung out tale of Nova Scotia's intriguing hole in the ground and what may or may not have ever been in it. In its seventh season, it is an enormously popular program for the network, and it now is more of an excuse to stray and tell some actual history while dressing it up in mystery. And that's okay. This particular episode tells the Knights Templar story, the Masonic founding fathers like Franklin and Washington, French Masons like Duc de la Rochefoucauld d’Enville, and even Rosslyn Chapel (natch). If the only part of this you've encountered before were the opening two minutes of National Treasure, this is a dandy introduction to the speculative theories. And no, Bob Cooper will not approve.

This episode is not yet available for streaming as it is still in active airing rotation.

Thanks to Rob Holderbaum for the screen shot off his TV. It looked better on the air.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Minnesota Masons Donate $35 Million for Brain Research at University of Minnesota

by Christopher Hodapp

Minnesota Masonic Charities is the charitable giving foundation of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, and their principal support is for the University of Minnesota's medical facilities. In the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown, the Masons of that state have just announced a $35 million gift to the University to establish the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, described as "an interdisciplinary initiative focused on the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of neuro-developmental disorders in early childhood and adolescence."

Led by the University’s Medical School and College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), this unique institute will bring together teams of researchers and clinicians who study how the brain grows and develops during early childhood and adolescence—formative years when the brain is most receptive to positive intervention.
Working together under one roof at the site of the former Shriners Healthcare for Children campus in Minneapolis, an array of experts will tackle such disorders as autism, ADHD, cognitive delays, drug addiction and severe depression, conditions that can often be identified early and have lifelong consequences.
“Our long-standing partnership with the University of Minnesota aligns with our mission to make meaningful contributions to society,” said Eric Neetenbeek, president and CEO of Minnesota Masonic Charities. “The Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain is another example of how we can unite the incredible expertise of the University with the capacity of Minnesota Masonry to benefit our entire state and, indeed, the world.”
University of Minnesota President Joan T. A. Gabel, who has made student mental health one of her top priorities, believes the support will improve lives when it matters most. “Early support of brain health sets the stage for everything to come in life,” she said. “Thanks to the Masons’ transformative gift, the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain will help ensure that children have the strongest start for a safe, happy and productive life.”
The Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain will form a research campus with M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and the University’s Biomedical Discovery District. The 10.2-acre property includes a two-level building with a hospital, clinic, and support area, as well as conference space and an attached parking lot. It is expected to open in Fall 2021 at the East River Parkway location.

This is by no means the only massive donation the state's fraternity has made to the University. With its latest gift of $35 million to establish and name the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, Minnesota Masonic Charities has contributed more than $160 million to the University of Minnesota to accelerate research discoveries in cancer and children’s health.

The University built the 80-bed Masonic Memorial Hospital in 1958 and the Masonic Cancer Research Building in the mid-’90s with support from Minnesota Masons. A $65 million pledge in 2008 to name the Masonic Cancer Center continues to advance major research discoveries. A $10 million gift from the Masons built the Masonic Cancer Clinic, which provides premier cancer care in the M Health Fairview Clinics and Surgery Center on the Twin Cities campus. In addition, a $25 million gift made in 2014 to enhance pediatric research and care led to the renaming of M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

H/T: Douglas Campbell

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Another One Gone: Savannah Scottish Rite Moves Out

by Christopher Hodapp

Freemasonry's White Elephant hunters continue to divest themselves of our historic architecture. Almost a year ago, the Scottish Rite Valley in Savannah, Georgia voted to unload their unique landmark 1923 building at 341 Bull Street just off Madison Square in the historic downtown area of town. It has been sold for $12 million to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which has leased space in the building for several years and operated the popular Gryphon Tea Room restaurant. So at least it won't meet the wrecking ball.

The elegant Gryphon Tea Room restaurant in the current Scottish Rite temple
When the sale of the building was announced last year, news stories said the Valley would turn the keys over to the new owners in June of 2020. The one year move-out period was to give the Scottish Rite time to build their new facility, and they had anticipated holding a final reunion in the old temple last month. The COVID-10 Wuhan virus shutdown has undoubtedly thrown a monkey wrench into those plans briefly, as the most recent update I can find was from February and the building is closed. 

They just broke ground on their new property in March.

James Johns, General Secretary for Scottish Rite in the Valley of Savannah, says the building downtown was difficult for members to access, with issues like parking restrictions, and says the new center will be easier to access.
"Our membership will now be able to access the building with more of an ease. What that allows us to do is serve the community and serve masonry in general easily, and allow new members to come and be a part of it, where that was restricted downtown," said Johns.
They have a target completion date of November.

The new location is about three miles west of downtown in an office park just off the interstate, far from Savannah's hugely popular, distinctive and historic tourist-friendly streets. I'm sure the new building will be nice and modern, with wheelchair ramps and plenty of parking. Looks like it's all one story, so no pesky elevators, either. But take a look at the architectural rendering and ask yourself how it compares aesthetically to what they are leaving behind. 

Will their new Scottish Rite Masonic Center be considered part of the fabric of Savannah, as its present one is? Will anyone a hundred years from today regard the new center as fondly, significantly or admiringly as they do the present one? Will anyone even notice it, nestled in amongst the generic FedEx and insurance offices, as they rocket past it on I-16? Will it dominate the skyline or cause anyone to even stop and explore it? Will anyone be itching to locate their own business inside a corner of it because they desperately want to share in its grandeur, charm, beauty and mystery, as the current Gryphon tea room restaurant does in their present home? Will anyone EVER pull off the highway and be inspired to explain to their bewildered family, "THAT'S where the Freemasons are! The Masons built that!" Or say to their sons, "Great things go on there!"

Will any future starry-eyed non-Mason ever look at it, feel a spark in his heart, and say, "I've got to be a part of THAT organization!"

I'm only asking the question, because our forefathers did before us. Inspiration was important to Freemasons until the late 20th century. It took Savannah's Masons more than thirty years to complete their first historic Scottish Rite Temple as they raised money and slowly erected it. The Valley's own website today (which contains not a single architectural image of the present Temple's magnificent three-story lodge room and intimate auditorium) says, "...the Dreamers who saw in their visions a new and handsome home for Savannah Masonry were ready to proceed with what would be a source of pride for the fraternity and an ornament to the city of Savannah."

What will Masonic architecture of today inspire the next generations to say when we are gone? 

"Great parking!" 

And are we really going to continue to accept mediocrity and bland steel toolshed temples under the lazy excuse that "a lodge is not a building?"

The Scottish Rite Masons of Savannah didn't just consider their OWN membership's needs between 1896 and their temple's completion in 1928, but also what its place in their city was and whether it would inspire future generations to also join us in our fraternal mission. Masons used to build for the Ages. All they asked us to do was either care for what they left us, or build even better. 

Where be our Dreamers now?